Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kids Greenland Paddle - Part 1

Until it's warm enough for epoxy, I can't really get much done on Sara's kayak.  So, I decided to make her a greenland style paddle.  There are a variety of resources available on the internet describing how to estimate sizing them, I used the Qajak USA recommendations as a starting point.  Since Sara's boat will be relatively wide compared to her size, I made the overall length and loom length a couple of inches longer than the suggested anthropomorphic size.

I'm too lazy to carve a paddle out of a single piece of wood and I'm too cheap to buy a bandsaw, so I laminate.  I started with two 3/8" x 2 1/2" cedar boards which made the "blades" of the paddle.  I then cut 3/8" out of the middle of a 1" dowel to make the loom and paddle blade reinforcement.

Major pieces
Glued up
The next step will be to plane the blades to the correct shape and sand it smooth.  Finally, I'll apply an oil finish.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New kayak!

I have decided to build another kayak.  This one will be for my 5 year old daughter Sara.

It is called the "Io" and is designed by Nick Schade of Guillemot Kayaks.  Nick offers the plans for free here, and has complete instructions on Instructables.com.

I am planning to use inexpensive luan plywood since this boat will not see hard use.  The exterior will be sheathed 4oz fiberglass and I will use 2" tape for the interior seems.  I think the seat will be a couple of layers of closed cell foam which should be sufficient for the sort of use this boat will see.  I'm not sure about a paddle, but I may try and build a simple greenland style paddle or buy a small kids paddle.

Sara is very excited about this and has already name her boat "The Sara"  ...very original :)  She has also requested that it be painted red "like Grandpa's kayak."

In Grandpa's red kayak
Checking out my SeaTour EXP... probably a little to big for her :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

1M Kayak Sail

I was asked to provide some details of how I mounted the 1M sail on my folding kayak.

The base of the mast is in compression and on a standard composite kayak, the standard approach is to reinforce this area with extra fiberglass and/or carbon fiber.  Obviously, on a folding kayak with a soft fabric skin, this is not an option.  In order to provide a solid base on which to mount the sail, I built a custom fiberglass and carbon fiber "plate."

Carbon fiber mast base plate
I chose to locate the plate at the second structural frame, so the mast load is shared by the plate, deckridge, and frame.  Having chosen the location for the plate, I covered the boat with parchment paper (great mold release), laid the fiberglass and carbon over it, then just had to wait for everything to get hard.  A day or so later, I trimmed the plate down to size and applied some varnish to protect the epoxy.

Next was a way to keep the plate in place.  First, I added some adhesive backed 1/8" minicell foam to the bottom of the plate where it contacts the gunwales and deckridge.  This provides some grip, and protection for the skin.  Next, I added four D-rings, one at each corner of the plate.

Additional D-rings glued to the hull skin of the kayak.
I used these rings and the cleats mounted on the plate to lash the plate to the deck.  This held the plate very securely, and there was no possibility of it moving or sliding around.

Now that the mounting plate was complete, I needed to add the rigging.  The side stays were terminated to the rear D-rings using some small shackles.  This allowed me to easily remove the stays for traveling.  I added one more D-ring for the mainsheet block, and also used it to connect a rear stay.

I don't have any good detailed pictures of the whole setup, but this is the closest I have.

The mainsheet (red) d-ring is just in front of the compass and the forestay (green) is connected to the bow carrying handle.  The mainsheet and forestay are cleated by the cockpit using simple plastic clam cleats, which can be seen in the lower left corner of the picture above.  The cleats were connected to the boat using a small loop of line through the rear mounting hole of the cleat and then looped around the deck rigging.  With tension on the lines, the cleats were held straight enough that the line would not pull out.

Overall, the mounting system has worked very well for me so far, and I am very happy with it.  It is lightweight, and easy to remove from the kayak.  The only permanent modifications to the kayak are the four d-rings for lashing the mast base, and the d-ring for the mainsheet / rear stay.

Feel free to leave comments, questions, or suggestions!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

EC2012 - The videos

You may have seen these before, but just in case...

Setup Day and Launch to Checkpoint 1:

Checkpoint 1 to Checkpoint 2:

Checkpoint 2 to Checkpoint 3:

Checkpoint 3 to Key Largo and Finish Party:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

EC2012 - Day 7

2012 Everglades Challenge
Friday, March 9, 2012

This morning, I slept in.  Emily got up on time and watched a big group of kayakers leave for Key Largo.  They had arrived the previous day and had a little "stealth party" in the fish cleaning station where we were "stealth" camping.

I finally roused myself out of the tent and Emily brought me coffee and a muffin from the marina store.  We finished our breakfast, the got to the task of completing the portage.  After a few trips, we had everything repacked on the saltwater side.

As had been the case the past few days, the wind was still 15 to 20 mph from the east.  We of course had to paddle east.  We paddled away from Flamingo and entered Tin Can channel.

Ranger Station at Flamingo
Not much water in Florida Bay
The six miles from Flamingo to Buoy Key were extremely difficult.  The persistent east wind combined with the very shallow water of Florida Bay caused a significant amount of current which also slowed our progress.  After what felt like forever, we paddled into the lee of Buoy Key and took a break.

Our next goal was Dump Keys, a pair of small islands with a small pass between them.  These looked like they would be a great place to tie up if you needed to catch some sleep in the middle of Florida Bay.

Approaching Dump Keys
In the lee of Dump Keys
At this point, we decided to take the northern route through Crocodile Dragover.  As we paddled northeast towards Big Key, the sun set and the wind started to abate.

Sunset on Florida Bay
We again appreciated the hours of looking at Google Earth and drawing detailed routes as we were able to stay in the channel and avoid the extremely shallow mud and weeds that border it.

Once we made it out of Crocodile Dragover, it was a straight shot ESE to the finish.  By now the wind was almost calm and our speed picked up.  Our next break was in a small gap in a sand bank south of Park Key.  From there we started to see the lights of the Keys.  The highlight was a fireworks show we could see way off in the distance to the southwest.  The lights steadily got closer and we took one last break at the north end of Shell Key.  This was the home stretch, just under 3 miles to go.  As an added bonus, the wind had shifted and we actually put our 1M downwind sail up for a little while.

Final approach to Key Largo
We could soon see the individual buildings and lights of Key Largo!  At this point, I started to wonder how accurate my waypoint for the finish was... I was a little worried about not being able to find Bay Cove in the dark.  Fortunately, my waypoint was accurate, and we landed on the beach at 2:15AM on Saturday, March 10.  We did it!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

EC2012 - Day 6

2012 Everglades Challenge
Thursday, March 8, 2012

After a short 5 hours of sleep, we had some breakfast and got the boat loaded up.  This was a new and interesting experience since the tide was going out and the boat was about 4 feet below the level of the chickee.  We got it done and began paddling up the Harney River.  I have heard that if you time it right, it is possible to ride the rising tide up the Harney River, then make the turn and ride the falling tide down the Shark River... We did not have that experience :)  As we fought the tide up the Harney River, we also were fighting a persistent east wind.  We were hoping that when we turned into the Shark River we would be able to sail and have a break, but that only turned out to be half true.  We did sail, but the tide was now coming up, which meant the current was against us.

Shark River
Instead of a break, we had to keep working to maintain forward progress.  As we neared the end of the Shark River, we had to consider our next course.  We could put our large sail rig back up and try to sail across Whitewater Bay, or continue paddling down the Joe River.  We were both feeling pretty beaten down by the constant howling east wind, and we did not feel that we would be able to even paddle through the pass into Whitewater Bay.  Instead, we headed SSW across Oyster Bay towards Joe River.  

Oyster Bay mangrove
Joe River was a beautiful stretch of water and a fairly pleasant paddle.

Taking a break on Joe River
At the end of Joe River is about a 4 mile stretch where we need to paddle due east across the bottom of Whitewater Bay.  We were more than a little apprehensive about what this stretch of water would be like.  Fortunately, by the time we got there, the wind had settled down significantly, and the waves were no issue either.  We made the crossing without incident and paddled through Tarpon Creek into Coot Bay.

Toes up in Coot Bay
Following Coot Bay is the three mile long Buttonwood Canal.  The canal was featureless, but protected from the wind and we made great time on our final stretch into CP3.  We hit the checkpoint at about 11:30PM and while Emily checked us in and set up the tent, I unpacked our gear and pulled the boat up and out of the way.  We ate a nice hot dinner then settled down for the night.

At the boat ramp in Flamingo

Monday, April 2, 2012

EC2012 - Day 5

2012 Everglades Challenge
Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Our morning began with a visit from NiteSpiritSix.  Whitecaps was disappointed we didn't offer him coffee and muffins... :)  We finished our breakfast, struck camp and got underway at about 7AM.

Leaving Lostman's Five campsite
We made our way through the first few bays and creeks without incident, but things started getting difficult in a small bay south of Third Bay.  The wind was again howling (~20 mph) from the east.  We slowly made our way west to east across this bay, hugging the shore where possible.  Things really came apart when we paddled south into the western end of Big Lostman's Bay.

The combination of high wind from the east and the large open bay caused us to be blown behind a small point of land.  We took an opportunity to take a break and eat something and made an attempt to paddle back around the point.  We failed to make the turn and ended up right back where we started.  I though about trying to pull the boat around the point, but when I stepped out of the boat, I sank past my knees.  At this point, we were extremely demoralized and decided to just sit and take a short nap.  After a break, we changed our approach and made it around the point and into Big Lostman's Bay.  About two miles later, we got a break from the wind in the channels leading to Rodgers River Bay, then Broad River Bay.

As we made the turn into Broad River Bay, we now had the wind at out backs.  We deployed our 1M downwind sail and enjoyed a fast downwind run all the way down Broad River.  At one point we hit 7mph, yeah!

We were committed to earning an Alligator Tooth award which meant we needed to traverse the Nightmare and Broad Creek.  These are not passable at low tide, which was when we were arriving.  To buy ourselves some time, we decided to stop and have some dinner at the Broad River campsite.  This turned out to be a great idea because the next 8 miles would prove to be extremely challenging.

Cooking some dinner
We got back moving at about 7PM and the first few turns of "The Nightmare" were nice and open.  However, things got tough quickly.  I had the path plotted accurately in my GPS, so direction finding was not a problem, but lots and lots of downed trees made going difficult.  Several times we needed to stop, back up, and find another path.  Twice we needed to stop and wait for the tide to come up before we could get over some larger logs.  We made it out of the Nightmare and into Broad Creek at about 11PM.  Broad Creek starts out open but gets narrow quickly.  The next couple of miles were very difficult, but we finally made it through.

Our original goal for the day was the Oyster Bay Chickee, but we were not even close.  Fortunately, the Harney River Chickee was not occupied when we arrived at about 2AM.  We got the boat secured, camp set up and fell immediately to sleep.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

EC2012 - Day 4

2012 Everglades Challenge
Tuesday, March 6, 2012

We learned something interesting when we woke up this morning... Florida mud stinks.  After a reasonably comfortable nights sleep, we awoke to a somewhat disturbing discovery, instead of floating, our boat was surrounded by mud.  Fortunately, I was able to pull the boat off the mud flat and back to the water with minimal effort.  We were underway by 5:30AM and a nice reach across Gullivan Bay towards Indian Key Pass.

Sunrise on Gullivan Bay
We reached the pass just behind a yellow Hobie Adventure Island sailed by AhMahChamee.  As we were sailing into the pass, a tour boat from Everglades City came motoring out and came to a stop directly in front of us... thanks.  I'm not sure he even saw us because they were all watching a pod of dolphins swimming around.  We sailed past and some of the passengers waved, I suppose we were just more wildlife :)

We eventually reached the end of the pass and as it opened up into Chokoloskee Bay we were slammed by the wind.  The wind had shifted to the east at 20mph with gusts to 30.  We pulled down the sail and tried to paddle but could not make any headway.  The sail went back up and we did out best short tacking in the narrow channel, doing our best to avoid the very shallow areas of mud on either side.  We made one last tack towards the airport, the hopped out and pulled the boat the last bit to the National Park ranger station.  I got our backcountry camping permits and Em got our ice cream... mmm...  Also stopping for permits were AhMahChamee, TideTraveller, and the NiteSpiritSix OC6 team.

We had three miles to go to CP2 and decided to try and sail there.  The wind was still pretty intense and with the shallow water kicking up our rudder and leeboard, we just sailed into shore and paddled the rest of the way to the checkpoint on Chokoloskee Island.

Beating upwind towards CP2
Approaching CP2
This was the point at which we switched from sailing to paddling.  We were planning on taking the Wilderness Waterway through the Everglades to CP3 in Flamingo.  I took the rig down and stowed it in the boat.  Based on the wind and wave conditions I decided to leave one of our amas out in single outrigger configuration.  While the XCR is a stable paddling canoe, we appreciated being able to concentrate 100% on providing power to the boat.  Emily performed the very important task of checking us in and filling all of our water jugs.

We left CP2 at about 3:30PM with about 25 miles to paddle to our campsite at Lostman's Five.  As we paddled out from behind Chokoloskee, we again faced strong headwinds.  Our speed dropped to 1 to 2mph as we struggled across the eastern end of Chokoloskee Bay towards the Lopez River.  As we turned out of the river into Sunday Bay, the wind began to abate.  Our speed picked up some and we ticked off Sunday Bay, Oyster Bay, Huston Bay and Last Huston Bay.  At this point, we were officially farther than our attempt last year, woohoo!

Between Chevelier Bay and Cannon Bay is the Darwins Place campsite.  We knew that NiteSpiritSix was camped here and planned to paddle by.  However, I broke my cardinal rule of nighttime travel and did not follow "the pink line" on my GPS. It seemed like it was leading us into a dead end, so we paddled away from the line.  This pictures shows were we ended up paddling (red) vs where we were supposed to paddle (blue)

Overall, no great loss, but I was more than a little nervous about getting lost in the mangrove in the dark.

Next was Tarpon Bay, then Alligator Creek.  This turned out to be aptly named as we saw an alligator floating by us as we paddled.  Neither Emily or I were sure the other had seen it, and we didn't want to freak each other out, so we didn't say anything about it until we were out of the creek.

We crossed Alligator Bay, Dads Bay, then Plate Creek and finally Lostman's Five Bay at about 1:30AM.  We set up camp and crashed.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

EC2012 - Day 3

Everglades Challenge 2012
Monday, March 5, 2012

After a quick breakfast we got underway by about 6AM.  The wind was still from the north but had moderated overnight.  We had an extremely pleasant sail across Charlotte Harbor and down Pine Island Sound.

Sunrise over Charlotte Harbor
Cabbage Key
The easy sailing ended at the southern end of Pine Island Sound.  The wind was shifting to the NE and to get out of the Sound and around Sanibel Island we had to make two tacks.  At this point the wind was also starting to get quite light and we broke out the paddles and motorsailed under the Sanibel Island Causeway.  

As we neared Point Ybel LeatherLungs in his CLC Northeast Dory rowed past us.

For the next couple of miles we traveled close together sometimes sailing and sometimes paddling or rowing.  For the rest of the afternoon the wind was very light and we did a lot of paddling.  Eventually we pulled away because we could paddle and sail at the same time and he could only do one or the other.

By late afternoon the wind began to fill back in, now from the east.  We decided to once again take the route through Caxambas Pass to Gullivan Bay.  In the best case scenario we hoped to make it to Panther Key which is where we camped on Monday night during the 2011 Everglades Challenge.  We enjoyed the lights of the high-rise condos on Marco Island while we enjoyed a pleasant sail towards the pass.  We made the turn into the pass and were able to continue sailing.  It was nearing midnight and we decided to stop for the night.  We tied up to the mangrove of Fred Key, had a bite to eat, and settled into the boat for a quick nights sleep.

This ended up being our highest mileage day; we covered about 75 miles in 18 hours.

Friday, March 30, 2012

EC2012 - Day 2

Everglades Challenge 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

No IHOP this morning... We were woken up at about 2AM by a light rain.  The wind was still out of the south but we had been sleeping for a while, so we decided to give it another go.  The conditions were not any better, so we ended up sailing exactly one tack.  We ended up about a mile further down Sarasota Bay, near Bishops Point.  We settled in for another nap and woke up again at about 5AM.  The wind still had not changed, but we didn't feel like waiting around anymore, so I started pulling the boat along the shore.  About half a mile later we walked past Wally and Badger who were tied up along the mangrove.  We chatted for a while, then just after 6AM noticed that the wind had started to shift.    We decided to go for it and hopped in.

The wind was now NW at 20+ mph with gusts close to 40 mph.  Our sail was still double reefed down to about 30 square feet and we were routinely hitting 10mph.  We had a few highlights:

  • "Sailboat Slalom" through the moored boats outside of the Sarasota Sailing Squadron.  These big boats were tugging at their moorings and the wind was howling in their rigging.  We sailed straight through the middle of the field of boats being very careful to not hit any of them or catch their mooring lines.
  • Sailing under the John Ringling Causeway hitting 12.8mph surfing a large wave.  My boat's new max speed :)
  • Not hitting the Siesta Drive bridge.  We misread the chart while approaching the bridge and though the vertical clearance was 18 feet, which meant we would need to drop out mast.  Unfortunately, there was nowhere to beach the boat and the wind was steadily pushing us towards the bridge through some very nasty chop generated by the waves reflecting off the seawalls.  Just when we though we were going to hit the bridge, we drifted nicely underneath with plenty of clearance.  Checking the chart again, we realized that we had looked at the wrong bridge and this one was 25 feet.  Whew...
The rest of the trip to CP1 was less eventful.  We had the drop our mast to get under a few bridges and while nearing the Blackburn Point Bridge we noticed Stripbuilder up on a bluff waving down at us.  He showed his his excellent campsite tucked between a fence and some mangrove... very stealthy :)

We continued south through Venice and saw DonKeyHoTeh and MicroTom beached on Snake Island.  The sail though the canal was fast but uneventful.

We arrived at CP1 at about 2:30PM and enjoyed some delicious hot dogs thanks to PaddleDancer and Etchimen, thanks!  We dried out some stuff, filled our water and rested a bit.  After discussing plans with some other Watertribers, we decided to head towards Hoagen Key to camp for the night.  We passed a few others as we were paddling back out:

Lugnut and Karank
After clearing the Placida bridge, we put the mast back up and set a straight line course to Hoagen Key.  This worked great until we hit a mud bank.  We dragged the boat around the obstacle and finished our day.  Hoagen Key is maintained by fellow Watertriber, Tyro and the Florida Paddle Trail Association.

We found a nice spot out of the wind, ate some dinner and settled down for a good nights sleep.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

EC2012 - Day 1

Everglades Challenge 2012
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Our day began with breakfast at IHOP.  Several other Watertribers were also eating there, enjoying a last big meal before our adventure.  We arrived at the beach by about 6AM and made our final preparations.

Emily took care of filling our water
Suiting up for a wet ride
The winds were in the mid teens from the south, had been blowing hard all night and most of Friday, and we were under a Small Craft Advisory.  We quickly decided that sailing out in the Gulf was not an option for us and decided to stay on the “inside,” sailing in the ICW.  After roll call, Chief walked up and down the beach reminding us that we did not in fact need to leave the beach if we did not find the conditions safe.  We felt fine about leaving but had our sail double reefed, which brought our sail area down to about 32 sq ft.  The horn blew at 7AM and people slowly trickled off the beach.  Em sat in the middle of the boat and I dragged the boat out past the sandbar just off shore.  I hopped in and we were off!

We're off!
Since the wind was from the south, we started on a starboard tack, heading southeast towards the Sunshine Skyway bridge.  The conditions in the crossing were lumpy, the waves were about 2 ft and the wind continued to build.  After several long tacks, we were finally approaching the first bridge.  With the combined wind and current, there was no way we were going to sail under the bridge.  We saw several other Tribers pulled up on shore on the eastern side pulling down their masts and walking under the bridge.  We followed suit and were through and going again in about 20 minutes.

Macatawa and MisterMoon pulling the boats under the Anna Maria Island bridge
We continued to sail near two Core Sound 17 sailboats, one sailed by MisterMoon and the other by DragonSlayer and SmokinJoe.  We repeated the procedure at the next bridge and continued to short tack down the narrow northern end of Sarasota Bay.  Eventually the bay opened up and we were able to sail some longer tacks.  It was now afternoon and the wind was 20+ knots, still from the south.  Sarasota Bay is very long with lots of fetch, and the waves continued to knock us around.  As afternoon turned to evening, we decided that we would end our day early rather than continue to be beat up by the wind and waves.  We watched the sun sink over Longboat Key and made one final tack towards shore.  We found a nice mangrove to tie up to that protected us from the wind and settled down for a nap in the boat.

Route for day 1:
We square symbol with the three lines shows where we "camped" for the night